Recent Reads: June 1-13

Since my wrap-ups are so long at the end of the month, I decided to break it up into two different posts. You can watch the video of this wrap-up here:


Here are the books I read from June 1 – June 13.

*=Author of Color

On the Rocks (Becker Brothers #1) by Kandi Steiner

3 stars
This is a small town contemporary age gap romance. Ruby is 19 and the daughter of the mayor of the small town. Noah works at a popular whiskey distillery. They meet when Ruby is visiting the distillery to purchase a wedding gift for her husband-to-be. So, if you are not a fan of cheating, you probably won’t be a big fan of this book. Granted, her fiance is an awful person, but the demonizing of his character seemed too convenient. It also occurs after there is already emotional cheating. Putting all of that aside, I did enjoy this book and I definitely want to read on in the series. I’m super curious about all of Noah’s brothers, and I’m assuming each brother has his own story.
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*The Boyfriend Project (The Boyfriend Project #1) by Farrah Rochon

4 stars
This contemporary romance is about three women who find out that they are all dating the same guy via a viral live tweet of his date with one of them. Both the main character and another of the women crash the date and become friends. They all decide to swear off men and focus on themselves. Of course, that is when the main character falls for someone. I loved the friendship in this book, in fact, more than I was interested in the romance. I LOVE reading books that feature women in STEM and our main character, Samiah, works for a tech company. Daniel, the hero, was fine, but he was very forgettable. I definitely think Samiah deserved someone a better and more interesting.
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*The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

5 Stars
I borrowed this audiobook from my library, but I absolutely need to own this.
This is a coming of age, story about a girl who feels out of place, even in her own family, until she discovers her passion for spoken word poetry. This book is told in verse and when you listen to the audiobook, it’s such a beautiful experience since the author narrates this herself.

I’m a big fan of spoken word poetry, so I appreciated her inflections and the way she read the lines, but I also wish I had this book in physical format as well. In fact, I’m planning on buying the physical copy as well so that I can underline my favorite parts and pull quotes from it. Not to mention the cover is gorgeous.
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Handsome Lawman (Handsome Devils #3) by Lori Wilde

4 stars
This is a book I read for a secret TBR. It’s a contemporary small town cowboy romance. This series follows attractive brothers that are very popular in this small town. Trent is the sheriff of the town and the first time he meets the heroine, it’s because she is being accused of theft. Erin is new in town and running away from her past.

This book was light, fluffy, and super cute. It’s was a nice palette cleanser read. I always love reading about animals in romances. This one was a little off-putting because the hero is basically forced into taking in Erin’s foster puppy, which any pet owner knows, is never a good idea. No one should ever be pressured into owning a puppy. However, it was adorable seeing Trent fall in love with the puppy.
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*The Man I Can’t Have (Ward Duet #1) by Shanora Williams

3 stars
This book is available on Audible Escape – it’s also available on KU. This is a story of a rich housewife and artist whose husband is constantly away for work. She hires a landscaping company to redo her backyard. Marcel is the owner of the landscaping company and they have an immediate connection.

This is a new-to-me author and I didn’t read the synopsis going in to this, so I had no idea what I was in for. I read this last week and honestly I’m still kind of reeling by how unexpected this book was. There were a lot of elements of this book that were pretty middle of the road, a typical romance. But then there were a few dark and gritty things thrown in that maybe seemed a little out of place to me. The ending felt like it came out of nowhere and I’m not really interested in reading the next book in this duet.
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Insidious (Tales from the Dark Side #1) by Aleatha Romig

4 stars
I read this book because it is Steph, from Steph’s Romance Book Talk’s favorite book and a few fellow romance booktubers and I read it and had a live show discussion about it with Steph.

I want to preface this by saying, I went into this completely blind with absolutely no expectations, whatsoever.

This is a very dark romance with so many trigger warnings, I’d say if you have any triggers whatsoever, it may be best to avoid this book.

I don’t even know how to describe this book. Basically, our main character is married to a very powerful and wealthy man who is dying. She has a contract with him which basically takes away her consent. He likes to watch her with other men and she has no choice in the matter.

There are no “good” characters in this. Everyone is some shade of awful human being, including the main character. But I loved her. Where you’d expect her to be extremely submissive, she’s actually quite badass. I’m always here for the vengeful, dark, heroine. I’m very interested in reading more by this author.
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White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo

I read this book for the Blackout Buddy Read. This is a book by a white author to educate other white people about racism. This book does what it intends. It made me uncomfortable. It forced me to look at myself through a different lense. It gave me the history lesson they don’t teach in schools.
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*Once More Upon a Time by Roshani Chokshi
4 stars
This is a super short Audible exclusive fairytale about a king who trades the love between himself and his queen in exchange for life. The story begins a year and a day later when they realize that just because their love was taken away, doesn’t mean they can’t find their way back to it.

I originally rated this book 3 stars because I felt like it was just meh. I didn’t really like the way the story was told, it felt very juvenile, though I know that was the intent. It was told like a fairytale.

As I thought more about this book, I realized the parallels this story draws between this fantastical stories with witches and magic and a very common, real life thing that often happens between married couples. The king and queen were in love, but that love is taken away from them. How often do we hear about married couples who fall out of love because they have grown apart instead of together? They either have to find their way back or go their separate ways. And much like how the two characters in this book didn’t realize they had the ability to fall in love again, a lot of married couples often don’t realize that same thing.

Needless to say, I bumped up the rating to 4 stars.

*Can’t Escape Love (Reluctant Royals #2.6) by Alyssa Cole

5 stars
OMG THIS BOOK WAS SO ADORABLE AND I WISH IT WAS LONGER! I read the first book in this series, but I did not read the second, however, after reading this book, I am determined to read the rest.

This is such an adorable, geeky, love story with such great rep. The main character is Black, disabled, a total boss bitch who runs a super successful website, and is SUPER nerdy in the best way. The hero is nerdy in his own way, he’s really good at puzzles and is a little socially awkward.

The premise is my favorite thing on the entire planet. The heroine is the only one who watches the heroes livesterams because she loves his soothing voice and it helps her sleep. So when he stops livestreaming, she has trouble sleeping. So, she reluctantly sends him an email asking him to send her audio clips of his voice.

As someone who is obsessed with people’s speaking voices to an embarrassing degree (I’m looking at your Jonathan Groff), this was the love story I didn’t know I needed in my life.
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My Favorite Souvenir by Penelope Ward, Vi Keeland

3 stars
This is available on AE and KU. few people were raving about this book in our Romance Booktubers Ask Us Anything liveshow, so I knew I wanted to give this author duo another try. I’ve read a few books of theirs in the past that I didn’t love, but also didn’t hate and this one was honestly no different.

Though, I did really love the premise. The heroine decides to go on her honeymoon even though her wedding was called off, but something happens and she can’t get a hotel room in the middle of a snow storm. She notices a guy scheming to get a hotel room and decides to get in on the scheme so she can get one, too. They end up hanging out and going on an impromptu road trip together.

I loved that entire aspect. I loved the meetcute and the road trip. But, much like a lot of the other books I’ve read by this duo, it just missed the mark for me a bit. I think it had a lot of potential, but it ended up falling flat. I didn’t love the bit of magic (tarot card reader) aspect, I don’t think it added anything to the story, it was really unnecessary and forced. I also didn’t love the epilogue.

I don’t usually mind epilogues that tie everything in a pretty bow, but this one felt unnecessary and extra also.
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Hard as it Gets (Hard Ink #1) by Laura Kaye

4 stars
This book took me so long to read because I read a physical copy and had to keep putting it down for different readathons and ARCs, but I finally finished and I really enjoyed it!

This entire series revolves around a tattoo parlor called hard ink and this group of men who were in the military, but have been dishonored due to a series of intricate lies. I’m guessing the entire series is them trying to unravel and bring to light the truth.

This book introduces you to the entire situation and characters without being info-dumpy or boring. The only downside is I’ve found that I don’t typically like romantic suspense novels and this was one. I found myself not really invested in the whole suspense storyline and wanting to just be immersed in the romance because it was so good. I can’t wait to read the other books in the series because I’m so interested in all the other characters. I really hope the hero’s brother has his own book because I loved him from the second he walked on page.
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All Boys Aren’t Blue: A Memoir-Manifesto by George M. Johnson

5 stars
This is the most recent book that I read, and I read it completely on a whim. It’s a book that has been recommended on instagram for those who are looking for Queer Black representation. For some reason I thought this was ficton even though the title clearly states it is a memoir.

I was pleasantly surprised and extremely invested in everything this author had to say. I feel like his story is so important and I’m so glad it is classified as YA even though there are some explicit scenes. Perhaps because there are explicit scenes. He addressed so many questions he had himself growing up queer and black that I feel will be so beneficial to young people who rarely see themselves in media.
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